Local skier wins bronze at the Under 16 Junior Championships
By: Warren Mayes
Talk about a Rocky Mountain high.
Abigail Murer, of Wildwood, won the overall bronze medal for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Rocky/Central U16 Junior Championships held in Beaver Creek, Colo.
Murer, 16, won the Under 16 downhill skiing race in 1 minute, 11.28 seconds in the USSA championships. She won the silver last year in the event. She also finished fourth in the Super G with a time of 1:02.83. She came in fourth in Giant Slalom with a time of 2:10.42. She was fifth in slalom with a time of 1:33.52.
These are her best finishes ever in these events at a national championship.
“It was a pretty good week,” Murer said by telephone from Vail, Colo., where she trains and attends school. “I’m happy with how I placed.”
It was a record-setting week for Murer. She was the only athlete to finish in the top five in all events. Some of her times were ranked among the top five in men’s racing as well.
Two girls tied for the overall championship with 260 points. Murer finished with 245 points. There were 90 girls competing in the championships.
Murer attends Lafayette High to start the school year before going to Vail, Colo., in November to begin skiing. There she takes courses online and has tutors to help her.
Last year, Murer finished second in the downhill. She was happy to claim first this time.
“That was great. I knew I had it in me to do it well,” Murer said. “Downhill is my favorite event. I wanted to my best and I did. I’m pretty happy about it.”
In the Super G, Murer made a mistake and it cost her.
“I started off really well. I was skiing fast and making good turns,” Murer said. “I was happy with how it was going for me. I came to a crucial part of the course and made a big mistake. I almost didn’t finish but I made it back to the course and finished fourth.
“I was surprised to come in fourth. Honestly, I remember at the top of the course how well I was doing and I think I would have finished first if I hadn’t made that mistake.”
Still, she was pleased with her fourth-place finish.
“To get back in my groove in it and finish fourth was pretty great,” she said.
The giant slalom resulted in her lowest showing, but it represented a personal best.
“The giant slalom is my least favorite and my worst event,” Murer said. “I have never pulled a top five before in it, especially in a championship event. I was more than excited to finish in top five for that.”
Her father, Ken Murer, said he too is pleased.
“Absolutely, I’m very proud of how she did,” Ken Murer said. “She had been struggling in mid-January. They (her coaches and trainers) changed some aspects of the inside of her boots and changed the setting on her skis. That threw her off a little bit. So, she switched everything back.”
It would be like a golfer changing his equipment or a racer changing his engine before a big race.
“They had been changing my alignment with my knees and they had been playing around with that and that wasn’t the best idea before a big event,” Abigail said. “I told them it wasn’t working for me so I went back. I think that really helped me to go back.”
Because of her high finish in the championship, Murer was selected for a special assessment project, April 1-4, with the U.S. Ski team academy. It’s a new concept. A total of 30 girls are chosen. Ten from the East, 10 from the West and five each come from the Rocky Mountain and Central regions. Murer was one of the five chosen from the Central region.
“She’ll be tested on strength, agility, skiing fundamentals and there will be a race in which the 30 girls will be going head to head,” her dad said.
“That camp is an assessment to see if your eligible for the USSA Team Academy,” Murer said. “They’re just picking one girl for that this year. It’s a challenge to get it but I think I am capable of meeting that challenge.”
She will remain in Vail until mid-April. She has three big races coming up, the first of which will be the NASTAR championship March 22-24. She was won her age group for the last two years.
Her dad said, “She’ll be competing for the chance to three-peat. If she does, she gets to go to Chile again and train there.”
For Murer, who joined the Hidden Valley Ski Team at age 7, winning NASTAR for a third time would be an important achievement.
“A three-peat is the goal and that means a lot to me honestly,” Abigail said. “In my mind and my heart, NASTAR is important to me.”